By Rayees Rasool:
‘If voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.’ – Mark Twain
The elections have already begun in Kashmir. The Election Commission reports say more than 70% people got their fingers inked, and the Indian mainstream media has instantly started beating the drums of voting turnout referring to it as a referendum in India’s favour. Lord Arnab in his usual dictating tone claims it as the vote for Indian democracy.
In the recent tragic floods, a lot of rhetoric was given about relief and rescue by the Indian Army, even when the ground reality contradicts popular claims. Indiranagar, the closest to one of the major Army Depot in Kashmir has its own tales to tell about the rescue operations by the army. When the losses mark to more than 1 trillion INR (the officials claim), it was untimely for elections to be held, as Omar Abdullah also stated. If the Indian State would have been even slightly sincere towards the people of Jammu Kashmir, they should have delayed it and focused on the reconstruction for the people who lost their houses and business establishments in the recent catastrophic floods.
It is evident that the state has never been honest in its efforts to resolve the political issue of Jammu Kashmir. In Kashmir, the Pro-Establishment politicians project the election process as an issue of “Sadak, bijli, and pani” (Roads, electricity, and water) like it has nothing to do with the Kashmir issue, while the Indian state on the other hand trickily deludes the world by projecting elections as a mandate to military oppression. Holding elections on gunpoint has never decided the fate of a nation, with such a heavy presence of military troopers, one can never perceive the elections to be free and fair. If we talk about the last six years, the coalition government of National Conference and Congress, it always remained in news for Omar’s tweets about his tears in the assembly and the famous dialogue “If my resignation brings back the killed, I will not hesitate to resign”. The Government even failed to stop the troopers from carrying their weapons when curfew was clamped upon the resilient people for weeks together. The Government failed to address the issues of due importance, they kept on adding to the numbers, the enquiry commissions, which have failed to deliver in the past. The recent floods clearly show how the government failed on every possibly front. It is their failure that people are still living under the open sky in freezing temperatures which is expected to go down further in coming days.
We all know elections in Jammu Kashmir always derive special attention of Indian National Media as well as international media. They keep a close eye on everything happening around, from boycott calls by pro freedom groups to “bogus” promises by pro establishment groups. The Indian state tries everything to make the people of Kashmir cast their vote and raise the poll percentage. From big rallies addressed by the heads of Indian National Political parties to door to door complaining, from force by Indian security forces to emotional vote appeals by the family members of the people contesting elections, everything is a matter of interest to the media. In the past few years, the mushrooming of political parties also contributed to the rise in the final turnout.
Elections in Jammu and Kashmir have remained merely a number game for all political parties, especially for the Indian State. They play with numbers and project it as a mandate to the Indian rule. They try everything to get the voting percentage up. The Indian state funds people, allows them to travel abroad (Outside Kashmir) free of cost, promises them businesses and what not to contest elections no matter they win or lose, the ultimate motive is to make maximum people to vote.
Even people who vote have interesting things to say. People vote for their relatives, because their children need jobs, because their village needs road, water, electricity etc., because they have promised Sheikh Abdullah they will be loyal to his party. People never voted against Aazadi!
And in the end, see how they play with numbers.
In the 2008 elections, the electoral population of Srinagar was 7.50 lacs and in 2014 it is 6, 23,717 lacs against a population of more than 13 lacs, which means less than half of the populace in Srinagar are voters. Logically, the number should be higher but in case of Kashmir, it decreases with every new election. This time the margin is a little high.
Let us have a look at the current voting percentage where they claim 70% of the people voted. Sonawari has a total population of 2,75,755 while only 99449 are on the electoral roll, which means 36% of the total population. Out of those 36% they claim 80% of them voted, which means a total of 70500 people voted in Sonawari. Similar is the case with Gurez and Bandipora where the electoral population is 37% and 55% of the total population respectively.
The media is presenting an adulterated version (70% of the populace voted) to the people of India, and hence all the truthful figures needs to be presented through the alternative media; Facebook surely can be a great medium. The media has completely blanketed the other side of elections where every time elections are around, Pro-Resistance young boys, hundreds of them, and leaders, are put behind bars in the name of “maintaining law and order”. Elections held in such chaos and enforced peace cannot be termed fair, at least not in a civilized society.